Monday, April 04, 2011
Not too long ago, I took the ferry from Central to Hunghom, on my way home. I could have taken a cross-harbour tunnel bus, the MTR and then our shuttle bus, or the Central - Tsimshatsui ferry and then a bus. But the Central - Hunghom ferry had a special charm. I got to see the Tsimshatsui East waterfront from an angle unavailable from the land. The unusually ugly Cultural Center from a distance. The colourful tourists on the Promenade. The long lineup of hotels. Our university. The Hunghom Coliseum. The pier where all kinds of to-be-recycled materials are loaded onto barges. Our own apartment block - even the window of my own apartment. ... All of that for a few dollars, which also got me leisurely home.
I do understand, as my father said, that with so few passengers, the ferry is not a good business. But, is it really necessarily so? We (Hong Kong) could have been smart enough to make our harbour front more attractive. We could have saved some of the precious harbour front space for parks, scenic views, street performances, dog walking, bus stops, cafes, restaurants, ..., where people would have a reason to gather or pass through. Perhaps then the ferries would be more attractive. The ferry would then be much more valuable. All that would in fact work together to make our harbour, and our city a more interesting city.
Instead, everything is predicated on making more and more money, and faster too. Hence more and more high rises, packing even the waterfront; and more and more travelling in enclosed underground tunnels. The more is our time spent on making money, the less time we have to enjoy our lives. By the time we wake up from it, it will be too late.